Slovak Jewish Heritage Route sites

Banská Štiavnica

Banská Štiavnica, Cemetery

The Jewish cemetery, owned by the municipality, has undergone restoration, thanks to a civic initiative led by a local activist, Dr. Beata Nemcová. The cemetery occupies a beautiful location on a hillside above town, spread out over a descending, partially terraced slope. The tombstones are simple, reflecting the urban taste of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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Bardejov, Bikur Cholim Synagogue

The Bikur Cholim synagogue was established 1929 by the Chevra Bikur Cholim, a Jewish charitable association. Located in the historical center and thus an integral part of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage site, it is a simple building whose street façade features two tall, pointed Gothic windows and a Hebrew inscription with the name of the association.

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Bardejov, Old Synagogue compound

Bardejov’s most prominent site of Jewish heritage is the so-called Jewish suburb, a compound of Jewish institutional buildings just outside the town center. It includes the Old Synagogue, a beit midrash (Torah study house), several mikvaot (ritual baths), a heating plant and a water tower. The Old Synagogue (Old Shul), dating from 1836, is the compound’s earliest building. The sanctuary is a nine-bay space with a central bimah supported by four pillars and a ceiling covered with splendid ornamental decoration.

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Chatam Sofer Memorial

Bratislava, Chatam Sofer Memorial

The Chatam Sofer Memorial is a Jewish holy site and important place of pilgrimage, where the Chatam Sofer and other prominent rabbis and Torah scholars are buried. The origins of this unique underground compound date back to the seventeenth century, when the Jewish community established its cemetery here. The cemetery was destroyed in 1943-1944, when a tunnel was constructed. Most of the graves were exhumed, and the bones carefully reburied at the New Orthodox cemetery, which is located nearby.

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Bratislava Museum of Jewish Culture

Bratislava, Museum of Jewish Culture

The Museum of Jewish Culture, which is a branch of the Slovak National Museum, is a prominent state-run institution focusing on Jewish heritage. Located in the Zsigray Mansion, a surviving house of Bratislava’s former Judengasse (Jewish Street), the Museum of Jewish Culture is the only reminder of the historic Jewish neighborhood, which was razed in the 1960s when the SNP Bridge was constructed.

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Bratislava synagogue

Bratislava, Synagogue

The only remaining synagogue in Bratislava is located on Heydukova Street, not far from the historical city center. It was constructed in 1923-1924 after designs by architect Arthur Szalatnai-Slatinský as a branch synagogue of the Orthodox Jewish community. The synagogue exterior has a towerless, seven-pillared colonnade facing the street. The interior includes a large sanctuary in which modern steel-and-concrete construction and contemporary Cubist details are combined with historicist elements, such as the arcade of the women’s gallery, a metal bimah, and the ark.

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Komárno Menház

Komárno, Menház

Today the center of Jewish religious and cultural life in Komárno, the Menház (former Jewish poorhouse) compound, built in 1896, comprises the former Jewish old-age home and its synagogue. A single-story, L-shaped, neo-Gothic complex with unplastered brick façades, the Menház stands at the intersection of two streets, with its main entrance on the corner. The synagogue is located at the northern rear side of the complex and has a charming Gothic interior that retains its original furniture and highly decorative cast-iron tie bars.

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Ľudovít Feld Cultural center

Košice, Puškinova Street, Orthodox synagogue

The Orthodox synagogue on Puškinova Street is one five extant synagogues in Košice – a silent witness to the rich Jewish past of Slovakia’s second city. Constructed in 1927 for the Orthodox community as a modern urban synagogue with adjoining Jewish school, it is still used by the Jewish Community of Košice as a house of worship, although the school building is no longer owned by the community.

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Košice, Zvonárska Street, Orthodox synagogue

Košice’s most significant Jewish heritage site is the Orthodox Jewish community compound. The compound includes a historic mikvah (ritual bath), the offices of the Jewish community and rabbinate, and a small synagogue used for regular services. Next to it is a built-in sukkah with a sliding roof, which is still used. In the middle of the area stands the partially restored old Orthodox synagogue, which was used as library storage during the communist period.

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Levice, Synagogue

The synagogue in Levice has been owned by the municipality since 1991, and in 2011-2012 underwent complete restoration. It is now used as a venue for cultural purposes. It was constructed in 1883 on the edge of the historical center, on a building lot created after the moat of the town’s former fortifications was filled in.

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Liptovský Mikuláš, Synagogue

An impressive edifice in the center of town, the synagogue is a blend of its various stages of construction. The original structure was destroyed by fire in 1878. Rebuilt, it was again damaged by fire in 1906. This time it was refurbished according to designs by the leading synagogue architect in the country, Lipót (Leopold) Baumhorn, from Budapest. Baumhorn retained the outer shell and neo-Classical portico with its Ionic capitols and tympanum.

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Lučenec, Synagogue

Constructed for the town’s Neolog community in 1924-1926, this colossal building is a grand memorial to the Jews of Lučenec. Surrounded by a typical communist-era housing estate, the synagogue narrowly escaped demolition in the 1980s. The building was designed by the well-known Budapest-based synagogue architect, Lipót Baumhorn.

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Malacky, Synagogue

This synagogue is one of the most beautiful in Slovakia, a stunning monument to the Jewish community of Malacky. Designed by the Vienna-based architect Wilhelm Stiassny (1842-1910), it was built in 1900 on the site of a synagogue from 1886. Also designed by Stiassny, the original building was devasted by fire in 1889. A fine example of Moorish style architecture, its two towers, horseshoe arches, and typical red and yellow striping make the synagogue one of the most elaborate buildings in town.
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Nitra synagogue

Nitra, Synagogue

The synagogue was built in 1908-1911 for the Neolog Jewish community. It was designed by Lipót (Leopold) Baumhorn (1860-1932), the prolific Budapest-based synagogue architect. The building is a characteristic example of Baumhorn’s style. A mélange of Moorish, Byzantine and Art Nouveau elements, it faces the street with a two-tower façade.
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Nové Zámky, Synagogue

The Orthodox synagogue survives intact and is still used as a Jewish house of worship. Located on the eastern side of the former town fortress, the synagogue forms part of a Jewish communal compound. It is considered a local heritage site, and the neo-Romanesque façade is illuminated at night. The original interior has been preserved, with the bimah placed strictly in the center and the women’s gallery supported by cast-iron columns along three sides of the sanctuary.
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Prešov Jewish community compound

Prešov, Jewish community compound

The Orthodox Jewish compound is centered around its magnificent synagogue, whose size and grandeur recall the prosperity of the community it served. This imposing building was constructed by the Košice-based company Kollacsek & Wirth in 1897-1898. The synagogue is still active as a house of worship. A permanent Judaica exhibition is installed in the former women’s gallery.

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Šahy, Synagogue

This synagogue, which served the Status Quo Ante community, was built in 1852 on a small square in the town center. Its flat, white-plastered west façade has three entrance gateways and a Hebrew Psalm inscribed high above, at the roofline. Long neglected, the building was used as a storage space for decades, and all of the original furnishings and interior decoration were lost. In the 1990s, the building was acquired by a Šahy-born psychologist, Dr. Péter Hunčík, and fully restored as a contemporary arts center run by a local foundation.

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Šamorín synagogue

Šamorín, Synagogue

Šamorín’s former synagogue stands at the heart of a traditional architectural setting that also comprises a former Jewish school and other Jewish communal buildings. The synagogue, a rather small building with a simple façade, was spared twice from destruction. The German army, which used the building as an ammunition dump, wanted to blow it up as it retreated from the town in 1945 – but did not do so.

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Spišská Nová Ves, Cemetery

The Jewish cemetery is located on the eastern outskirts of the town, near the railroad line. The oldest grave dates from 1880; the last burial took place in 1955. Towards the end of World War II, the German army rebuilt the cemetery chapel into a pillbox fortification, which still exists today.

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Spišské Podhradie, Synagogue

The synagogue, built in around 1875 and restored after a fire in 1905-1906, is a typical example of nineteenth-century provincial synagogue architecture. Its eastern façade is oriented to the street and accentuated by four polygonal pillars topped by massive stone balls. The interior, whose splendid decorations have been relatively well preserved, includes a women’s gallery supported by cast iron columns. The original ark is still in place.

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Stupava, Synagogue

The synagogue was built in 1803 and represents a unique example of the nine-bay type. Located in the center of the town, close to the Pálffy family chateau, it stands on a deep lot near a creek. Its exterior is rectangular, with massive walls pierced by simple Baroque windows and topped by a saddleback roof. An interesting detail of the façade are the oval ventilation openings in the gable, a typical feature of local architecture in the Záhorie Region.
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Šurany, Synagogue

Šurany’s synagogue was built in 1916 in an architectural style that employs an eclectic combination of Gothic, Art Nouveau and Moorish elements – a mix that is vividly displayed on the decorative façade. After World War II the building was used as a school. It now houses the Šurany Municipal Museum and has been open to the public since 2005. The museum has its permanent exhibition in the women’s gallery.

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Trenčín synagogue

Trenčín, Synagogue

The synagogue, inaugurated in 1913, was designed by the Berlin-based architect Richard Scheibner. A mix of Byzantine and Art Nouveau styles and modern concrete dome construction, it represents a trend towards minimizing exterior decoration while preserving monumental classical forms. The sanctuary is a large hall, which has for many years been used as an art gallery.

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Trnava, Status Quo Ante synagogue

This synagogue, built in 1897 for the Status Quo Ante Jewish community, was designed by Jakob Gartner (1861-1921), a prolific Vienna-based architect who specialized in Jewish houses of worship. Located in the center of town, the red-brick neo-Romanesque building has a twin-towered façade that faces the street. The three-nave sanctuary has a women’s gallery supported by cast-iron columns.

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Žilina, Neolog synagogue

The former synagogue, built in 1928-1931 by the Neolog Jewish community, is an important work of European modern architecture in Slovakia. In the 1920s, the community conducted an international competition to design a new synagogue that would replace an older one dating from 1880. Important architects of the time, including Josef Hoffmann from Vienna and Lipót Baumhorn from Budapest, participated.

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Žilina synagogue

Žilina, Orthodox synagogue

The Orthodox synagogue is today the center of local Jewish activities. Originally constructed in the 1920s by the breakaway Orthodox congregation, it is small, single-story structure in a quiet residential neighborhood. The basement, once the site of a mikvah (ritual bath), is today used as a shop. The sanctuary is fully preserved with its original furnishings and typical 1920s-style geometric ornamentation.
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